Volume 93, Issue 23

Thursday, October 7, 1999


She's all that and the advertisers know why

Teenage genre growing out of phase

Teenage genre growing out of phase

Gazette file photo

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

She's all that, Cruel Intentions, Scream and Scream 2 are just a few of the teen flicks gracing the cinematic screen in recent years. Their audience is teenagers, their popularity relying on the disposable income of teens.

According to Allan Gedalof, professor of English and pop culture, the onslaught of teenage movies is not an anomaly to the world of cinema. "The youth culture may be intensified, but the teen film genre is nothing new. Think back 15 years to films such as Heathers and even further back into the '50s, the starting point of all this can be found in Rebel Without A Cause."

Gedalof said the markets between today and 40 years ago, when Rebel Without A Cause shocked audiences with a portrayal of disaffected youth, are different due to a saturation of the genre. "Today there is a shrug of the shoulders, we're generally harder, but we're also more aware than ever," he said.

The popularity of the camp/horror genre, prevalent in such films as Scream, is also a revamped technique, Gedalof explained. "The idea of threatening young women has been around for a long time, it even goes back to the 17th century with the issue of women and safety."

But the success of horror and teenage films is derived from proportioning the market into fractions, so advertisers can be more aware of their target audiences. This way, he said, the promoters can anticipate the demand and in turn, create it.

Peter Howl, music critic for The Toronto Star attributes the success of teenage movies to the industry's selling of the entire cinematic experience.

"The new movie entertainment complexes have arcades and it treats going to the movies like a shopping experience. Kids today have the money to spend on these types of things, they're the kids of the baby boomers and the kids of the echo boomers who have more money than ever before."

Promoters and marketers, Howl says, have formulated the movie making industry into a science. "They know how to niche markets. They are no longer aiming at a broad audience, but now markets are going to be aimed at the pre-pubescent."

The persistence of the teenage market is slowing down, however, and in another five years the market should see the same things again, Howl added. "The real fad of the teen industry is dying out, even teenagers have a threshold."

The onslaught of teen cult films can be attributed to movie companies finding success in one genre and then duplicating it, explained Beth Alexander, publicist for the film company Dreamworks. "The popularity of this genre of films is mostly driven by audience demand," Alexander said. "However, movies will still be made, even after the fad dies out."

The repetition is due to box office success, or demand and the public will then be given a high percentage of the same format, she said. "We were hit with the gross-out comedies, first from Something About Mary and then a year later we see American Pie, which was obviously influenced by their slate."

The teenage genre should soon dwindle and then the market will move on to the next big thing – whatever will drive box office success, Alexander added.

To Contact The Campus and Culture Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999